Hosting a party is never easy. For at least a week ahead of time (but usually two or three) you, the host, are fully swamped with all sorts of preparations, like shopping for the menu, rearranging your furniture, and scrubbing every square inch of your house until there is not a spot or speck of dust in the place.
Still, no matter what you do, you know there is going to be at least one catastrophe — but you can make sure that it isn’t your fault. Here are seven common party disasters and how to avoid them ahead of time.
1. Missing Entertainment
For more formal festivities, like weddings or anniversaries, most guests expect some form of live entertainment to get the party started. Unfortunately, artistic types don’t always keep the tightest schedules. A few days before the party, you should throw together a simple playlist of event-appropriate tracks and set up your speakers. Then, your guests won’t have to wait around in silence until the entertainment arrives.
When it comes to kids parties, it is often wise to keep the entertainer secret until show time. If the entertainment falls through — which can happen uncomfortably often with kids’ acts — the kids won’t be disappointed, and you can fill the time with other activities, like crafts or stories.
2. Bad Weather
Weather is outrageously unpredictable — even by the professionals — but it has the ability to stop a party in its tracks. Instead of falling prey to torrential downpours or penetrating heat spells, you should be ready for whatever the forecaster says. If your event takes place outside, you should have some sort of awning available to thwart rain and sunshine. Of course, if the weather gets too bad, you should also have a nearby indoor refuge. It might be best to make sure your heating and cooling systems are up and running, as well.
3. Unwelcome Visitors
You spent days honing your guest list, but you can be sure that day-of, a few of your guests are going to show up with someone unexpected in tow. You can limit the number of unexpected guests by stressing your party’s limited space on your invitations, but like it or not, at least one surprise guest will attend. A good host is prepared with at least two guests’ worth of extra supplies, including food and seats, but brave host will simply ask the unanticipated guest to leave.
A host’s biggest fear is that the lights will be hung, the table will be set, and absolutely no one will come to her party. To be honest, it is entirely implausible that everyone will flake on your shindig, but you will likely have one or two guests who don’t show. For this very reason, savvy party-throwers invented the RSVP deadline, which forces those eager to attend to let you know in a reasonable amount of time. Then, you can expect everyone else to miss out on your fun.
When it comes to throwing a party for the adults, alcohol is often a host’s best friend — at least for a few rounds. After that, guests can become tipsy and hard to handle, transforming a party into a destructive rager. It is unreasonable to suggest nixing the booze at your party since a cocktail or two makes for excellent social lubricant. However, you can attempt to count your guests’ drinks and limit those you know have trouble holding their hooch. Even better, you can have a handy smartphone app do it for you.
6. Late Food
It is easy to get carried away when it comes to planning the menu for a dinner party; you almost always want to show off your culinary skill, but without precise planning, you could leave your guests hungry and waiting for hours past eating time.
The best solution is to pick dishes you know and are comfortable making. If most of your food isn’t exciting enough, you can allow yourself one experiment, but you should avoid making the untried dish the main entrée in case it doesn’t cook as quickly as you expect. If all else fails, you should have a reliable delivery restaurant at the ready.
7. Dietary Restrictions
Sugar-free, gluten-free, low-acid, nut allergies, vegan — there are all sorts of diets, and you can’t expect to cater to all of them unknowingly. If you get something wrong, your guests could starve for the night, or worse, they could have dangerous allergic reactions. Most guests with dietary restrictions are just as worried about their ability to eat as you are, which means you can ask your guests about food issues when you invite them without seeming impolite.